Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16 - Like Christmas Morning

Monday, March 16

Today, Clayton was as upbeat as his family had ever seen him through the video screen.

"It looks like you took a shower this morning," his wife commented on his incredibly curly hair.

"Oh it's so much better than that!" he replied with a grin, "This has got to be the best morning I've ever had in here!"

Clayton explained to his family the world of difference that the tiny commissary items made for him after arriving yesterday.  This morning he got to test out the dandruff shampoo that had arrived.  Until now, he only had the single assigned small bar of soap to use to wash his entire body and hair every day; which left him with a continual dry skin problem.  Now, he finally had real shampoo to wash his hair with, and the difference was visible.  He also explained that the ability to use the strange prison floss and real Crest toothpaste in the morning was an inspiring experience.  He felt clean in a way he hadn't managed since he was remanded more than a month ago.  He was also thinking that now he might be able to work out again without the fear of being 'the smelly guy.'

Even better, Clayton was able to get a full night's rest for the first time in more than a month.  The green, shaped ear plugs that arrived in yesterday's delivery worked wonderfully.  Clayton was finally able to block out the all-night screams and shouts, and sleep through the night without interruption.  Clayton reminded his family of the stories he had told them about the late night ruckus.  He also added a new one.  A few nights ago, he said that the entire segregation mod had kept themselves awake all night making animal noises.  Some of them were belting out amazing Alaskan bird calls, while others were growling, howling, or screeching.

"It was like being stuck in a jungle all night," he explained.

Writing Letters to Family and Friends

Clayton informed his family that he had continued writing return letters to friends and family.  He was able to respond to individuals who had mailed him, because he gets a photo copy of the front of the envelope along with the photo copies of the contents.  This allowed him to see everyone's return mailing addresses.  He was still waiting for mail to arrive with addresses for other individuals he wanted to write to.

So far, he had used 11 of the 20 stamps he received yesterday, even with doubling-up letters in some envelopes.  He had sent out 4 of the letters for mail pick-up already, and still had a few to finish putting together.  Then he explained that he had a few more responses left to write.  He agreed with family that, with the limit on purchasing 20 stamps at a time, he would need to purchase stamps every week and use them judiciously to keep in contact with as many people as he could manage.  Even then, his communications will be limited.

Clayton also asked his family to relay a request on his blog.  "If anyone who receives a letter from me is interested in sharing the content in it, please send a copy of the letter to my wife and she can post it on the blog as well," he said.  He said he had explained some additional things about life in the prison in his letter responses, and that some of that information would also be good to share in a forum like the blog.

Offer for K Mod

Clayton then informed his visitors that he had a surprise visit from a guard this morning, with an offer to be moved into the K Mod.  Clayton's family was shocked to hear that he had turned the offer down.  He then explained that the offer was to be moved into the K Mod into a room with 2 other inmates.  He would not be assigned his own bunk, but would have a mattress on the floor which the prisons call 'boats.'  It is a mattress that takes up the only available walking space in the room.

"I thought about it seriously," he explained to his wife, "I've been the guy on the floor before.  Any time someone uses the sink they're dipping water on your bed.  You don't have a shelf for your stuff built in like the other guys do.  You don't have any real area as your personal space."

He explained that in his prior experience at MSPT being on the boats had been miserable.  He had asked the guard if there was any real chance of getting a bunk space in the K Mod.  The guard explained that it sometimes happened when a lot of guys got moved out at once, but that it could be months before that happened.

"They said if I am patient, it will happen eventually," he relayed.  "I am okay where I am right now.  I am safe, and I have the basics.  If I am patient, I think it will be worth it to have a bunk."

Asking the Lord for His Purpose

Clayton also spoke with the family and friend about how he was looking at his imprisonment spiritually.  He talked about the many stories he had read in the bible of people being imprisoned unjustly, and said he had come to a strong conclusion.

"God specifically allows bad things to happen to people," he explained, "but He uses it for good.  I am asking the Lord to use me, and to help me understand what the point is for me being in here.  Who can I help?  If I am in here, I want it to be worth something."

Even though he had been convicted falsely, Clayton believes with all his heart that it was something the Lord had allowed to happen.  He was a person with a history of mentoring, tutoring and supporting others.  He knew how to help those in need without judgement.  He feels closer to the Lord than he has in years, because he has so much of his day to focus on prayer and study.

"Maybe God just needed a guy like me in here," he said with a sigh.  "I'm just asking the Lord for mercy and guidance now.  I want to help who I can, but I also want to be able to retire eventually."

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Clayton was transferred into K Mod much later, on April 10, 2015.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15 - First Commissary Received

Sunday, March 15

To say that Clayton was excited at his visit would have been an extreme understatement.  He had received his first commissary order earlier in the day, and told his wife that he had spent the entire afternoon writing letters.  He already had 7 letters to respond to, not taking into account people who had already written him more than once.  He was determined to get these responses out as quickly as possible.

Last night he had also received a response to the OTA form he'd submitted, requesting that postage be approved to mail postage-printed envelopes that had been ordered for him - but he could not receive - to his wife.  He said it had been approved, and the postage had cost $5.  Ironically, his wife reported that she had received the envelopes themselves in the mail the same night, so the response to Clayton had been significantly delayed.

Review of Commissary Items

In this commissary order, Clayton had purchased all of the varieties of paper available.  He highly recommended the lined notebook; explaining that it was the superior option.  He had ordered a legal pad as well, but disliked the yellow pages and explained that the sheets did not tear out easily for letter-writing.  Clayton was also surprised to discover that the envelopes he had ordered were 'standard' sized and therefore, extremely small.  He recommended buying the longer envelopes instead, unless you want to fold each letter several times to fit.  He joked that it was an experiment in origami.

Clayton's commissary delivery also included a small photo album.  He wasn't sure what to expect when he'd ordered it, and was now pleasantly surprised.  The photo album has room for 36 photos up to 4" X 6", and Clayton currently only had 14 to put inside.  The number it could hold was important, because prison policy seemed to indicate that inmates could only have 25 loose photos in their possession, without them being organized into an album.  Clayton noted, however, that the album was fairly flimsy and the plastic sleeves could be torn easily when placing photos inside; therefore, it would be helpful for the photos to be trimmed slightly to fit easier.

Clayton received some basic hygiene supplies as well.  He said he had been entirely too hopeful when ordering the anti-shank toothbrush from the list, because he simply got another 2" flimsy piece of plastic like the one he already had.  He didn't recommend bothering to order one unless you truly needed a replacement.  The mint floss was interesting, because it came in the form of tiny mint-flavored, single-use rubber bands.  Lastly, Clayton had received: lotion for the snake-like peeling of his skin due to the harsh soap in the prison; dandruff shampoo which he had waited to buy, expecting the standard shampoo from his rejected order to arrive first; some chap stick; and 2 varieties of ear plugs.  He was eager to test out the new items the next day.

Jones' Thoughts on Programs

Jones had spent the day talking to Clayton about his opinion of various programs for prisoners in Alaska.  He said that the RSAT and LSAT programs he had mentioned to Clayton earlier were run by an organization called Akeela.

Jones also discussed several halfway houses around the state.  In his opinion, the best house was called Glenwood and was located in Anchorage.  He said that the rules at that location were much stricter, but this meant that overall you were likely to encounter less problems with other individuals housed there.  He explained that in his experience, the halfway houses frequently had a higher concentration of drugs and alcohol than you would ever normally find on the street.

Jones also explained to Clayton that the best plan was usually to try and get into any programs you could immediately after sentencing.  He said that many times there are waiting lists, and that funding for programs is frequently not assured; so, programs may disappear at any point.  If you have not already gotten in, you would have missed your opportunity.  Some of the programs in Alaska were not even originally from in state, but were instead brought to Alaska with prisoners who were returning from out of state, to provide the option for them to complete programs they were already enrolled in.

Clayton also asked Jones his opinion on issues upcoming for him in sentencing.  Jones agreed that a high volume of letters of support to the court on Clayton's behalf would be important to the judge.  It shows community support for the individual, and should be considered during sentencing.  Additionally, he confirmed for Clayton that his security rating could potentially be changed due to his sentence.  Clayton was currently rated for a medium security facility - like GCCC or Palmer Correctional - but there was a slight possibility that after sentencing the judge could affect his security rating and cause him to be sent to a maximum security facility - Seward.  There would be no way to know the likelihood of this in advance of sentencing.

Jones emphasized again that Seward was actually his favorite facility.  He explained that the facility had a lot more amenities built in for individuals facing long-term and life-time sentences.  He told Clayton that the main meal area was very large, and that it reminded him of a marketplace in a third world country; with multiple people standing around and haggling for trades of food and commissary items each day.  Clayton had seen the same haggling play out at MSPT on a much smaller scale, and said it was easy to imagine.

In wrapping up his visit with family, Clayton said that he was currently spending a lot of time in prayer.  He was reading his Our Daily Bread devotional, reading his bible, and had gotten a hold of a small prayer journal to record his thoughts.  He was having a lot more trouble with the other inmates when moving back and forth to his cell, but the tone of the harassment had changed to seem extremely sexual in nature.  Clayton didn't have to truly interact with anyone other than his cell mate, so he planned to just continue to ignore them until they tired of the game.  Meanwhile, he would still look forward to his daily visits.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

March 14 - Bleeding Heart

Saturday, March 14

Clayton was very cheery today when meeting with his family and a friend for his daily visit.  He'd received a letter from a friend the night before, and reading the letter had caused him to laugh so hard he nearly cried.  He was also excited to report that the older man who he had feared died in the medivac emergency on March 5th didn't actually die, and was instead back in segregation.

Also contributing to Clayton's good humor, was the fact that tomorrow was commissary day.  Due to an error on his account made by prison staff, this would be the first time that Clayton received any of his commissary orders since he was first remanded a month ago.  He was looking forward to receiving paper, envelopes, stamps and other supplies necessary for writing return letters to friends and family.  He planned to begin writing immediately.

Meanwhile, Clayton delivered his wife a message from Jones. “He says, Keep fighting! Way to go!” Clayton said.  Jones apparently felt it was amazing to see someone's wife stand beside them, and attempt to battle a wrongful conviction from the outside.

Story From Seward

Jones had told Clayton a story today, however, which had saddened him and Clayton wondered how much truth there may be to it - but realized he would likely never know.  Jones told him that once, while he had been serving time in the hole (isolation) in Seward, he'd learned his lesson to never do anything stupid enough to end up in long-term trouble with the prison staff.  You could end up stuck with it for a very long time, and end up very miserable.

According to Jones, while sitting in his cell he could hear another man in isolation talking for days.  The man sounded as if he were talking to his wife, but was instead talking to the walls around him.  At some point many days later, the man attempted suicide.  He had done so by stopping up the edges of his cell with towels and linens, and attempted to flood the room enough to drown using his own toilet and sink.  The attempt was unsuccessful, but according to Jones the guards had chosen to leave the man to stand in the water for several days as punishment.  He explained that he had been able to see the water come rushing out all over the floor when they finally opened it up to retrieve the man.  He said the man never attempted to flood his cell again.  

Bleeding Heart

Clayton explained that he still received all kinds of verbal abuse from the other inmates when being escorted to and from his cell for visits and showers each day, but that it was relatively easy to ignore.  He also said it seemed obvious that the guards and prison staff were not used to dealing with an attitude like Clayton's.
"I'm a bleeding heart," he explained, "[The guards] in here are always telling me not to feel bad for these guys, but they're just so... sad."

Clayton's wife smiled as she remembered Clayton's own lawyers expressing their exasperation at him as he was commenting about how he felt so bad for the prosecutor on his own case; because of the kinds of lies the man was spewing out upon the jury during trial and his own foolish beliefs.

Clayton's guards also seemed to find Clayton's interactions with family odd, and had more recently been commenting to him about their surprise at how often he received visitors.

In wrapping up their conversation, Clayton told his wife that he had three new verses he recommended that friends and family read: Psalms 102:18-28, Psalms 103:1-22, and Matthew 25:31-46.  He also discussed different options for long-distance games he could play with his family, in addition to chess.  When asked if he had access to dice through commissary, Clayton replied, "No, but back at MSPT I learned how people make prison dice."  The family decided to wait on any games involving dice until Clayton could get access to a better commissary list after being moved out of segregation.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13 - Another Friday the 13th

Friday, March 13

Clayton's wife began their visit today by updating Clayton on what was going on with his close friend who had been in a car accident.  She assured him that they were bruised up, but otherwise seemed okay and were now looking into their options for replacing their vehicle.  Clayton was comforted by the news, and asked her to relay his love.

After his visit last night, Clayton had received three new letters from friends and family, and was very excited about them.  He told his wife he was looking forward to writing response letters as soon as he was able.  Last night, he was also able to get a hold of an OTA form, which was needed to authorize postage to return the ordered postage-printed envelopes to his wife.  He had turned in the form as quickly as he could, and informed his wife that he was simply hoping for the best now because he'd had to leave a bunch of the information blank (like the unknown amount of postage).  His wife assured him that she would be watching for them, and also waiting for a call about the property he asked to be disbursed to her many days ago.

Clayton hadn't had a shower this morning because he slept through the announcement after staying up all night reading the book version of Black Hawk Down.  He joked with his wife about his new roommate, Jones, who had the same love of reading that he did.  He said the #1 thing they were always asking the guards for were books.  Other inmates would finish a book and push it out into the hallway when they were finished.  Clayton and Jones could usually see the books lying out in the hallway or on railings around the mod.

He said it felt almost like hustling for books as they would go to the cell door and ask the guards, "Hey... hey man.  Could you pass me that book?"

Clayton managed to finish 2 books yesterday, and get a hold of 3 more he hadn't read yet.  He and his cell mate were allowed to have 5 books in possession at any given time, and once they had both read a book, they would pass it out into the hallway as well.  Clayton also noted that the books available seemed to be an eclectic group of romance novels, thrillers, and dramas.

Getting to Know Jones

Clayton said that he and his roommate had avoided the topic of what the accusations against Clayton were, but at some point today Clayton did mention that he was looking at a probable sentence of 20 or more years.

"Holy shit," Jones had breathed, "What did you do... kill somebody?"

It was obvious that in the time Jones had spent around Clayton so far, he never expected something like that from him - as it completely conflicted with Clayton's obvious gentle nature.  After learning that Clayton was potentially facing a long-term sentence, Jones began to open up a bit more bout his own experience in the Alaska prison system.  He informed Clayton that in the past he'd served more than 6 years for charges related to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.  Due to the seriousness of the charges and length of his sentence, he had served time in most of the prisons across Alaska, and even out of state.

He began to explain to Clayton the nature of "Good Time" in Alaska.  According to Jones, an inmate accrues 10 days of good time for every 30 days they successfully serve without incidents that result in write-ups with the prison.  With 12 months in a year, this translates to 120 days of good time.  Clayton had started doing the math, and realized that a 20-year sentence (the minimum in Alaska for a Murder 2 charge) could result in several years of good time.  Jones told Clayton he had known several people at the Seward prison who were serving extremely long sentences and had been paroled at 20 years.  In Alaska, good time is tacked on to the amount of time an inmate must serve on parole instead of truly trimming time off of the sentence completely.

Jones also talked with Clayton about various programs that were available in the Alaska prisons including the LSAT and RSAT programs.  He said the programs were designed as rehabilitation programs, but extended beyond drugs and alcohol.  He wondered if someone with Clayton's history would be able to sign up as a mentor or tutor instead of a participant.  He explained that, in his experience, any level of involvement with a program like this will usually be viewed positively by a parole board. He also explained that these programs are lengthy, and last beyond the time served in jail.  There may not be bars on the windows, but if you leave the program the police are called.

Clayton was disappointed to hear that Jones didn't think the courts would consider time spent on court-approved third party during sentencing.  This was of major concern to Clayton because he had spent nearly three years on third party before the charges against him were dismissed the first time, and his case had drug on for more nearly six years before resulting in a trial.  Jones expressed that he had seen many men make this argument over the years, and had never personally seen a judge even take that time into consideration.

However, Clayton was encouraged by Jones' opinion on what had transpired at MSPT.  After he was initially remanded, Clayton had been attacked in his cell, but refused to fight the man.  At the time, other inmates had expressed to Clayton that his choice not to fight was a very dangerous decision.  Jones, on the other hand, felt that Clayton had done the right thing.  He expressed that for a man facing a shorter sentence that may be true, but someone facing long-term sentences should never risk a fight, and run the risk of losing their accumulated good time.  When a violation occurs, and a write-up is documented, it resets the good time clock back to zero - regardless of how many years have already been served.

Overall, Jones expressed to Clayton that his preferred facility in Alaska was surprisingly in Seward - the maximum security facility.  He believed that the location was much more scenic, and the way the facility operated was much more friendly to inmates serving long-term and life-time sentences.

In wrapping up their conversation, Clayton's family told him it felt odd to think that he had already spent a full month in prison.  The entire experience still felt highly unreal.  His family and friend looked forward to their next opportunity to visit him.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 12 - Confusion Over Forms

Thursday, March 12

When Clayton arrived at his visit today, he was visibly flustered and depressed.  On March 10th he had received a notification from the prison that postage-printed envelopes his wife had ordered for him through the U.S. Postal Service - after being advised that it was permitted by staff - had been received and rejected by their mail department.  The receipt had a simple statement that inmates were not allowed to receive postage from outside the prison, and given him the opportunity to mail the property out to someone, or have the prison destroy it.  Clayton had completed the attached form, requesting they be mailed to his wife, immediately.

However, today he had gotten a response to that cop-out form saying he hadn't completed the necessary additional form called an "Offender Trust Account" (OTA) form, authorizing and unknown amount of postage - and therefore without it the envelopes were slated to be destroyed.  Clayton explained that the original notice had said he only had 3 days to indicate his choice for distribution/destruction, and it had already been 2 days before he even got the notice back.

Clayton stressed that he didn't even have an OTA form, nor know what was one or how to get it.  He explained that there was a metal mailbox on the wall in the hallway when returning to his cell from visits.  It had metal file-folder-like compartments all around the outside with forms sticking out them various directions.  Traveling to and from his cell was usually his only opportunity to grab a form if needed, and sometimes various forms were out.  He was worried about annoying the guard by fumbling around without knowing what he was looking for, and his wife advised him to ask the guard if they could point it out to him - hoping the guard he had today would be kind.  Even then, Clayton fretted about whether his wife would receive the valuable envelopes due to the delay.

Meanwhile, he had received 3 additional letters the night before from friends and family, and had been excited to read them.  He hoped to write back whenever he finally received the required supplies from commissary.


Clayton had also learned more today about how medical worked at the facility.  In the last couple of days he had gotten the opportunity to see the prison nurse, due to the persistent hive-like bumps he was getting on his arms.  They had given him some anti-itch creme to use in a small paper cup, and he had been using it minimally, not sure when it would run out.  However, now the cream was coming in the small paper cups daily.  When he asked about it the staff explained that his 'prescription' would be good for 6-months, and the medicine would continue to come on the daily med cart.  Clayton's account would be charged a $5 medical co-pay for the visit with the nurse, and wouldn't need to pay again unless he needed another visit for medical.

Clayton's wife could also see that he was continually wincing as he sat and talked with her, and finally asked him what it was about.

"It's just this [hand]cuff on my right arm," he explained with a grimace, "It's collapsed way too tight on my arm and it hurts."

She asked if he would prefer to cut the visit short for the day so he could get them off quicker, but his response was adamantly negative.  He said that the visit was "worth a little pain."

Never Learned My Lesson

Clayton was happy to finally get an opportunity to shower today, after it not being offered for the last couple of days.  However, he joked that he hadn't learned his lesson from Andy's example days before.  When you take a shower in the segregation unit, they bring you fresh clothes and lock you in the shower cell.  You strip out of the old clothes and toss them out into the hallway for staff to take care of.

"Immediately check the size!" Clayton stressed.

Although he had made sure to have new clothes from the guards before giving up his old ones, he hadn't bothered to do so.  Therefore, he was now wearing pants that were three sizes too big for him, and had to be tied on at the waist.   He emphasized that individuals should wait to shower until they had their new clothes already, and check the size right away.  Waiting for later is too late.  Now he needed to take a shower the following day just to try and get properly-fitted clothes.

Also this morning, like every morning, Clayton was given the opportunity for recreation or 'Rec' at the same time he had an opportunity to shower.  Once again, he had chosen not to take it, for fear of becoming sick.  The guards had cheerily announced that it was a mere 10 degrees outside, and although Clayton could see the sun from a window high in the main room, he knew that usually clear days in Alaska were also the coldest.

Clayton had heard other inmates discuss what Rec was like in the segregation unit at GCCC, gleaning what information he could.  They had discussed being locked into individual chain-link-walled cells with awnings over them outside, locked in next to each other but kept distinctly separated.  It was not clear whether any of them were given coats; and he assumed that, like the showers, they would have to wait for the guards to retrieve them even if they became cold.  With Clayton's tendencies towards pneumonia and bronchitis, he elected to avoid the entire possibility, but his wife could see the frustration from not knowing showing on his face.

Always More to Learn

Clayton learned recently that there was another gang in the Alaska prisons.  Previously, he had learned about the 1488 white supremacists gang.  This gang, instead, used NB as its symbol, blended into a single image.  It stands for Native Brotherhood, as far as he's been told, but is open to Alaska Natives, American Indians, Samoans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and maybe more.  Both Andy and Jones had explained at separate times that neither gang was good, and both seemed to rival each other within the prison politics.

Clayton also learned that he should have a '30 day review' coming up sometime soon, as he will have spent 30 days in segregation and it was apparently required.  He was looking forward to the opportunity to speak with someone in the staff about his current situation, but was happy for now to continue to see friends and family through daily visits.

Clayton's wife also mentioned before closing out of their conversation that one of his best friends had been in a major car accident just before she had left for her visit.  She was worried about distressing him further, but knew he disliked being out of the loop and hoped to give him time to ask questions.  She had managed to determine that their friend not injured enough to need hospitalization, and friends and family were making sure they were being taken care of.  Clayton was shocked, and distressed that he was unable to help, but said he was glad that she had decided to tell him honestly what was going on.  He said one of the worst possibilities was being left in the dark while things were happening with his family and friends.

"I would rather know," he expressed with a sad smile.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 11 - Barbie Girl

Wednesday, March 11

During his visit today, Clayton expressed that the day had mostly been "slow and boring."  The guards had not called for showers yesterday or today.  Clayton wasn't sure why, but he had just gone another day without.  He also had not managed to get the phone today to make a call out to family, which had left him disappointed.  Today was yet another family birthday he was missing - for two different family members at once, and he had hoped to call and wish them happy birthday.  He'd spent most of the day sleeping, but had been encouraged by receiving a letter from a friend the night before. 

When mail is received in the prison, the staff copy the front of the envelope and its contents and give only the photocopies to the inmates.  This allows the individual to see their return address, so they can send a response.  All original letter materials at GCCC are disposed of by the prison, with the exception of greeting cards, which are stored in the person's personal affects until the person is released or distributes them to someone on the outside.  The only form of mail that comes through to Clayton in its original form is photographs, after the paper has undergone testing to ensure it isn't laced with drugs.  

His wife had spent the day looking for order-by-mail cards from magazines Clayton might like to receive a subscription to including: National Geographic, Smithsonian, and others.  She hoped to send him the cards so that he would be able to order a subscription himself - as prison policies indicated were necessary.*  His wife hadn't even realized there was a Smithsonian Magazine, but Clayton cheered with delight saying, "Did you know I was a card-carrying member for years?!"  Considering her husband had also participated in chess and math clubs, and was an avid Battle of the Books participant, she wasn't really surprised.

Barbie Girl

Clayton relayed an amusing story about the day's only real entertainment so far.  One of the female guards who works in their module had come in this morning in an apparent good mood.  Clayton described her traveling through the halls singing Aqua's Barbie Girl at the top of her lungs.  Clayton said she seemed very happy as she traveled around the cells singing.  Then, she seemed to pause for dramatic effect before shouting, "HAHA suckers!! Now you've got that stuck in your heads!" 

Getting to Know Jones

Clayton also noted that his roommate had finally opened up a bit more that day.  He explained to Clayton that he was only scheduled to serve 7 more weeks for his sentence to be complete.  He was electing to serve the entire sentence - instead of getting out early - to avoid what he explained was the 'trap' presented by probation.

Jones explained that he had served fairly extensive time in prison before, and expected his upcoming release to take place as they had in the past.  When released, he would be released wherever he was initially processed, which in his case would be Anchorage.  He was looking forward to being released with no job, no transportation, and no family of any kind.  He was unmarried, and would be completely on his own.  The prison would cut him a check for the tiny balance of his account, and return his personal belonging which fortunately included a coat.  He told Clayton he would just try to avoid the drug crowd if he could, and try to get by.

Clayton spent the rest of his visit catching up with family, and the various events and misfortunes they were navigating without him.  He asked them to communicate to his friends and lawyers that he was thinking about them, and managing one day at a time.  Currently he would continue using the concordance in his bible to explore the use of various words throughout the Bible.  

*AUTHOR'S NOTE:  The family has since learned that magazine order cards are not permitted to be mailed to inmates - or apparently order forms in general.  Mail including these items will be rejected - with a note to the prisoner that they can be mailed back to someone or destroyed.  However, the mail does not seem to always return to the sender.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 8 - Book Balance Error Explained

Sunday, March 8

Today Clayton finally received a statement of his account from staff outlining the error that had been made on his books.  Shortly after his arrival at MSPT on February 13, the entire balance of his account (nearly $100) had been subtracted for a "medical co-payment" in error, even though the only interaction Clayton had with medical at MSPT was a mandatory TB test.  The error was not corrected until after Clayton and his family inquired about the balance of his books on March 2.  This was the cause of Clayton's first commissary request being rejected, but there appeared to be no method of getting supplies to Clayton any faster according to staff at the facility.  He would just have to wait 2 more weeks.    

The only other medical interaction Clayton had experienced was his initial medical check-in after arriving at GCCC.  Ironically, he now needed medical for another reason.  He had filed a cop-out form for medical earlier in the day because he was breaking out in itchy bumps, like hives, all over his arms.  He assumed he must be reacting to something used in the laundry by the facility, but had no way to be sure.  

The statement of his account had also arrived with his new commissary form for this week.  He had completed it right away, and already turned it in before his family arrived.  His family also learned from facility staff, that the only people authorized to put more money on Clayton's books were his 10 approved visitors.  It apparently did not matter whether they had managed to actually visit him yet; only that they were one of the approved 10.  This complicated requests of many individuals wanting to help provide for Clayton, but the family assured them that the funds would get deposited through these friends and family if desired.  

Daylight Savings Time

Clayton commented during his visit that he felt completely disoriented about the time.  Lunch had come early today, and been very disappointing.  It consisted of 2 pieces of bread with a blob of peanut butter.  The soup it was partnered with appeared to be chicken soup, but the contents did not taste or feel like real chicken.  When he decided to cut into one of the blobs out of curiosity, he was shocked to find that it was blue inside!  He had stopped eating entirely.

Dinner had also come much earlier than normal, at 3:30 pm, and he now worried about the long night ahead without another meal.  Clayton's family then explained to him that the time changed today due to Daylight Savings Time, and he realized that everything was happening an hour early only because no one had changed the clock in the main room.

“I’m starting to see why people order food and stock it away now,” he explained.

The Fishing Show

Clayton told his family it overall had been a pretty boring day.  He had gotten the opportunity to talk with his new roommate, Jones, a little bit more.  Jones was a little awkward about Clay praying over his meals, but otherwise they were getting along well.

They were both apparently fans of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time book series and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth book series.  Jones was incredulous that Clayton was able to finish more than 2 books in a single day.  During the day they had together managed to get their hands on several new books.  The first came when Clayton requested permission to pick up an abandoned book in the hallway when being moved back to his cell.  Later they were also able to get 2 more abandoned books passed to them by guards.

Other than the books, the only real entertainment that day had been a man spontaneously breaking out in song singing Alicia Keys Girl on Fire, and the opportunity to observe an elaborate group fishing effort by the other inmates.  From his cell, Clayton could see a man standing in the law library, fishing from it while the guards were gone.  Instead of fishing for something from a particular cell, the man was assisting other inmates in making sharp angles with their lines to get into cells they normally could not manage on their own.  For those not participating, it became a free show of sorts.

Clayton was disappointed that he still hadn't gotten the opportunity to visit the law library.  He had submitted a cop-out requesting it, but had never gotten a response back.  Meanwhile, a bunch more of the men in segregation had gotten in trouble for fishing and actually getting caught.  Clayton could tell because all of their linens were taken away, and so there were now a bunch more men standing around in their underwear.

“That’s what you get," Clayton joked.  "They shouldn't be doing that.”

Clayton also mentioned to his wife during the visit that the other inmates seemed to be tiring somewhat from the constant harassment when he would leave his cell to visit with her.  They would comment about him 'going to see his girl,' but otherwise leave him alone.  However, being away from family was becoming difficult.

“My heart’s been sore because I want to be there for people, and I can’t,” he explained, "Even then, I'm really trying to be thankful to these guys [guards] back here. They have a thankless job.”

Clayton ended his visit struggling to stay positive, but looking forward to tomorrow's visit.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 7 - Long Distance Chess Games

Saturday, March 7

Clayton was able to get a call out to family today, just before his wife came to visit him with a friend.  He had received mail the night before including a letter from his mother, and one from his wife that included photos of Clayton with family and friends.  She had also included an order form for envelopes from the USPS, hoping that Clayton might be able to order himself postage-printed envelopes to use instead of being limited to the 20 stamps per week available through commissary.*

Clayton explained that he had already calculated out his commissary order for the next day in advance, and hoped to order file folders from the list to organize his paperwork and incoming mail.  His friends discussed what kind of mail he would like to receive from them, and some of the plans they had to send him information on movies that would be coming out soon - in a way he could experience.


Clayton was very excited to explain that he had an epiphany earlier in the day of something he could do with friends and family long distance.  He wanted to play chess!  Clayton had been in the chess club as a young student, and had frequently played with his father.

“There came a day when he stopped winning,” Clayton said with a smile, "but it has been a long time and I'm pretty rusty."

He encouraged anyone who wanted to play a chess game with him to set up a chess board at home, and send him their movements by mail.  He planned to track it on a piece of paper, and then respond with moves of his own.  His wife said she would find an example of the board with the numbered squares, and an example with the pieces laid out so he could be refreshed on how to start; and keep the movements clear in each game.

An Otherwise Calm Day

Clayton said that the day had otherwise been uneventful.  He didn't know much more about his cell mate than he had the day before, but they had no problems.  Clayton commented that the prison slang for a cell mate was a "Celly," but he refused to use the term.

"The guards and inmates look at me funny when I call the person my roommate," Clayton explained, "but I don't want to use the term celly.  I refuse to be depressed about anything.  I've decided to look at this like an extended stay at a hotel.  I get room service.  I get to eat breakfast in bed, and I get to read all day."

Clayton wouldn't receive commissary for a while, so he wouldn't have access to stationary, but he was eager to get mailing addresses for friends and family so he could begin writing right away when it finally did come.  He was really grateful for the magazines he had been sent by friends, and the recent opportunity to read a copy of the ADN from another inmate, which had been passed to him by a guard.   He still wasn't sure how to disburse property out to his wife, and this would be needed eventually as magazines and books piled up, so he had submitted a cop-out form requesting information on how to do so. Otherwise, Clayton looked forward to seeing his family the next day.

AUTHORS NOTE: *Much later Clayton learned the envelopes are not an option. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 6 - New Roommate and Commissary Rejection

Friday, March 6

When Clayton's family came in for his visit today, they surprised him with 4 family members.  Clayton's eyes went wide when the video screen actually activated, and he could see the four smiling faces.  This presented a little bit of a challenge for the family, due to the way the video visitations are conducted.  The video screen on the wall only has 1 phone attached to hear your loved one through, and the cord attaching it to the screen is less than a couple of feet long.  However, the family managed by spinning a couple of themselves around backwards and huddling all four heads around the phone receiver.  It was far from comfortable, but definitely worth it to see and speak with him.

They then discovered that Clayton had been assigned a new roommate.  The man was a stark contrast to the last, and Clayton still wasn't sure how things would turn out between the two of them.

"He's real quiet," Clayton explained, "He hasn't really talked much at all so I know almost nothing about him."

Clayton described the man as being in his mid-40's or later, shorter than Clayton's 6 feet, and rather unhealthy looking.  He had a nearly shaved head, many tattoos, and was extremely thin.  Clayton described him as 'pretty laid back', and said the man certainly didn't pose any kind of physical threat.  He also appeared to be an avid reader, like Clayton.

The man had mentioned that he had a history with methamphetamine.  When Clayton mentioned that he was a Christian, the man said that he worshiped the Great Native Spirit.  Clayton was fairly sure the man had "PC'd up" - requested protective custody - either because people thought he was an informant, or he actually was one.

The man, who we will now call 'Jones', explained to Clayton that he only had 7 weeks left before he would be free.  He is originally from Anchorage, and wants to return there.  Like Andy, Jones was frustrated by the inability to call Anchorage phone numbers.  The man had immediately filed a cop-out to be moved back to Anchorage, but Clayton wasn't sure he would get a response at all, or at least in the next 7 weeks.

Commissary Rejected Due to Prison's Error

Clayton had not received any new mail today, but he got a shocking paperwork response.  His original commissary form from March 1st had been returned as rejected, with a simple red NSF stamped on the bottom of the form.  NSF stood for 'Not Sufficient Funds.'  Clayton's wife was immediately angry, remembering the date earlier when Clayton had inquired about his book balance.  The staff had told him then that there was no money on his books, but within a couple of hours after she had arrived at the facility she was told his balance was correct and more than sufficient to cover any commissary he had purchased thus far.

"This is their mistake!" she said in frustration, "It has to be.  That money should never have been off of your books."

Clayton was visibly disappointed, but did his usual best to put on a smiling face.  This first order had been items Clay was desperate for, for hygiene purposes.  It had included things like: shower shoes, a comb, shampoo, soap and a soap case, cotton swabs, deodorant, and a small pocket-sized address book.   He had waited for his second commissary to order items like stationary so he could begin communicating with other friends and family who were not allowed to visit him.

"It's okay," he assured them, "I will just reorder everything this week."

But Mrs. Allison knew this meant it would be at least 2 more full weeks before those items arrived after they were ordered, and her heart hurt.  Meanwhile, they had no way of knowing if Clayton's second commissary order would be falsely rejected as well, as the problems with his books had been addressed after that form had been filed.  They had still not received any clarification on why the books were ever said to have been empty.  

Tip of the Day:  Make sure to ask the guards about your book balance early enough in the day on commissary day.  This is the only day you will be able to inquire about the balance through the intercom, but if it is not done early enough, problems may not be corrected in time.

Catching up With Family

Clayton spent the rest of his visit catching up with his family and sharing fun information with them.  He learned about the used car that was recently purchased by a family member, and talked with them about various video games they should play and write to him about.  He also reminded them to let people know that when he calls, his cell mate is standing right behind him - so questions they ask can be awkward and they should avoid that if possible.  He will relay as much information as he can through daily visits.

He also discussed the copy of National Geographic he had been given earlier by the chaplain at MSPT.  He still had it, and had the chance now to relay that it was actually an October 1979 edition!  He explained that it looked brand-new despite its age. He was highly amused that there was an advertisement inside for an 'upcoming' 1980 tourist book proudly stating, "Come see Alaska!"  Some of the other ads Clayton described as priceless including a Kodak ad for the 1979 Olympics.  Another one had a woman wearing an apron and standing in a kitchen advertising a 'brand-new' over the range microwave, like it was brand new technology.

One of the articles inside the National Geographic magazine was also on the 'new technology' of fiber-optic cables.  It discussed how telecommunications would change with scientists predicting that these would be in every home in America by the year 2000.  Another article was about a man living in the Colorado mountains in a tent created with $300 in materials who was herding goats. Clayton said that the most interesting article was talking about the last province in China to fall to communism. It described thousands of Chinese people hiding in caves from bombings. 

Before wrapping up their visit, Clayton's wife asked about the informational armband he had been given at MSPT and still appeared to be wearing.  It looked like a laminated piece of paper; like someone would be assigned in a hospital.  Clayton explained that it was a write-up offence to remove the armband at any time, but that if it needed replacing eventually a cop-out form could be submitted to medical with the request.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5 - Goodbye Andy

Thursday, March 5

Clayton was able to get a phone call out to friends before his visitation time today.  They were surprised to discover that he was alone in his cell, and Andy had been moved from the facility.   Clayton inquired of his friends about how his wife was truly doing, as he knew she would keep on a brave face for him. They relayed that she was keeping herself going, and that family and friends were doing everything they could to help her out.  Clayton provided basic information about what he'd been doing during the day, and said he looked forward to visiting with his family later that night.

When Clayton's family arrived at the facility, they were surprised to find that he was sad.  He looked exhausted, and his normal, cheerful disposition was completely absent. When they asked him what was going on, he started off with an, "It was a very long night."

Medivac Emergency

Clayton explained that the normal nightly screamers had started up around 9 PM last night, and made it impossible to get any rest. The screaming included everything from random screams of frustration, to inmates shouting out numbers at one another.  This screaming continued straight through until around 3 AM, when screams and shouts began to arise for an entirely different reason.

The prison had what appeared to be (from his cell) a medivac emergency. The older man who Clayton had mentioned in an earlier post appeared to be having a heart attack, or some other kind of medical emergency. He wasn't sure what the two true situation was, only the resulting uproar that it caused within the administrative segregation unit.

Clayton reminded his family that this older man had been receiving a lot of grief from other inmates immediately after arriving in segregation. They accused him of raping a young boy, and continually shouted, "Chester!" at him as he left and came back to his own cell for visitation times. Clay was not willing to believe those types of accusations against the man, even if they could be true, because they shouted the very same things at Clayton as he came and went as well, and there isn't an ounce of truth in it. It is the worst accusation that can be made against someone, but is thrown out somewhat at random by the men within the prison against those they don't like or don't understand.

However, as soon as the accusation is made, it seems to feed a form of madness within the other inmates.  The prison staff and emergency responders were working diligently to remove the man from his cell and transport him away from the facility, but they appeared from Clayton's perspective to be losing him. Meanwhile, nearly the entire population of inmates were losing their minds with what appeared to be maddened glee.  They banged on their cell walls and shouted and screamed things like, "Die! Chester die!" and "One down, 1 billion to go!"

"It was so sad," Clayton said to his family with his head hung low, "he was dying to the sound of people gleefully cheering about his death."

Goodbye Andy

Shortly after the medivac emergency, Andy got called up to be transported back to Anchorage. He had some form of hearing coming up in court, and needed to be housed closer to where the proceedings would take place. Andy was excited to go back, because this would put him closer to his family and more accessible to them through telephone calls and visiting hours.  He had been expecting the transfer to come eventually, and they had transferred the borrowed playing cards Clayton had been using to teach him Rummy back to their owner through the guards the day before.

Andy left behind a small Catholic devotional which Clayton hadn't seen before. Clayton was familiar with Christian tracks and pamphlets, but had never seen one from the Catholic perspective. So, he decided to read it and find out what was inside. He said there was all kinds of information inside about Catholic mass, and the history on various saints. He said the included history was fascinating, and made for a great read.

"I’ve got a cell all to my lonesome now," Clayton relayed to his family, but he seemed far from cheerful about it.

Clayton said he was thankful for the time alone to himself. It gave him time to process the events of the night before. He mentioned to his family that he felt closer to God than he had in years.

"I can't really escape him here," he said with a chuckle.

He then read his family the Our Daily Bread devotional for the day, and said it had helped him significantly. The word for that day dealt both with death, and with the principle of not judging others who we don't know or understand. It encouraged him to embrace God's love for those around him, so he prayed for the man whose name and crime he did not know.

Clayton wanted to encourage his friends and family to read Lamentations 3:31-36.  He has read the bible many times since he was remanded, and said that out of the whole scripture, these verses speak to him the most in his current circumstances.

Clayton had also spent some time getting to know the guy in the cell next to him pretty well. The man said he had "PC’d out" because people were trying to extend his time.  He explained to Clayton that sometimes, when other inmates find out you have very little time left, they become jealous. They will try to pick fights with you, or accuse you of other wrongdoing, in an effort to extend your time through punishment from the prison staff. PC is one way to avoid that complication if the worry becomes too great, and the inmate explained to Clayton that he would be more than happy to spend his remaining 2 months in "the hole" so he could go home on time.

Alaska Prison Gang - 1488

Clayton also had an epiphany while reviewing the events of last night, which he relayed to his family with shock and confusion.  

“There’s a gang in here!” he shout-whispered into the video phone.

Aside from the obvious presence of gangs in Alaska, which one typically heard about in the streets or high school hallways, there appeared to be a gang specific to the Alaska prisons.  The gang is called Crew 1488.  [The link is provided, but at this time Clayton knew nothing about them other than the name.]  He said the graffiti he had seen at MSPT and many of the rooms here at GCCC suddenly made sense, because 88 and 14 was scrawled on nearly every surface.

Apparently, the gang members would shout out "88!" as one of the all-night screams to one another. Clayton hadn't understood, and it had seemed completely random to him while he was trying to sleep.  In his frustration he had joked with Andy about shouting out random numbers of his own like "42!" or "37!"  This had made Andy laugh continually, and Clayton now assumed he must have understood all along, but he simply told Clayton, "Man.  That's funny, but don't.  Don't do it."

Last night, the screaming had taken a different tone after the medivac emergency, leading to Clayton's epiphany.  All night, the members of the gang who had been thrown into segregation were screaming back and forth to each other; hyping each other up.

They were shouting things like, “Man we love being in the hole!” and "This s*#* don't bother us!"

Managing the Rest of His Day

Clayton mentioned once again that it is a continual struggle to keep his cell clean.  Just yesterday all the inmates had gone through cleaning routine required by staff, which had caused them to clean every surface in their cells, including ceilings and floors. Despite the recent exercise, Clayton still wished he had access to regular cleaning supplies. He explained that the food trays are passed through a hole in their doors each day, and have a tendency to collect food residue on the edges of the opening if the food is too tall, the trays are too dirty, or they are simply passed through poorly. He said there isn't much that can be done to clean it.

In addition to the door, he noted that there were already crumbs, and little bits of food, on the floor from passing the trays back and forth to the door. In addition to the crumbs, there is a continuous battle with the small pink 'lint bunnies' that accumulate on the floor. Clayton explained that it is impossible to keep them out, because there are multiple vents in the cell that both suck air in and force it out of the room, and they seem to cause the lint to collect constantly.

It is difficult to ask for cleaning supplies, and the guards rarely respond; especially on days like today when they seem so short-staffed. Clayton said that after the events of last night, there was only one guard passing out breakfast this morning instead of the normal three or four. For now, the best Clayton can do is use a large brown paper bag from commissary delivery for Andy as a trashcan by the door, and ask a guard to empty it when necessary.

Clayton had a few letters written to family and friends, but was awaiting the arrival of stamps in commissary, which would still take at least a week to arrive. His cell did have a small bookshelf available for his use to store personal items, which was where he was currently storing books and letters. His wife mentioned that the GCCC handbook said they would have small bins available to store personal items, and he confirmed that the bunk he had been assigned had railings designed for bins, but that no bins were actually included in this unit.

Clayton struggled to end his visit with family on a positive note.  He mentioned that he was very excited that the book cart had come by today, and he had grabbed up 2 new books.  During his earlier call out he had already been ¾ of the way through the first one, but by now he was finished with both.  The first had been a Ken Follett book called Night Over Water.  The second was a Harlan Coben booked called Miracle Cure.  He enjoyed both.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3 - Prison Tips, Toilets and Concerts

Tuesday, March 3

When Clayton met with his family during his visit today, he was very excited because he had received mail from a friend in Georgia.  

"I didn't get a chance to look at it yet," he explained, "but I can't wait."  

The mail tends to be delivered in the late evening hours, and his family's visit had come late as well, so he had only just been handed the mail before he was called up by the guard for visitation.  When checking in for visitation herself, Clayton's wife had noted that the guard staff out front were increasingly kinder and very helpful as she established her routine of a daily visit.  They now recognized her as she came through the door, and gave her a smile and a wave as she left each night.

Mrs. Allison also noted that the guards seemed pulled in multiple directions, and wondered if they were short-staffed.  She had seen the process all staff at the prison had to complete to enter the facility, change shifts, and access different areas; running through the same security processes they made all others go through.  Some staff had clear purses they would bring with their private supplies to run through the x-ray machine, and the guards went through a rather funny gear-stripping routine to run through the metal detectors as all their metal gear went through the same scanners.  

She now watched a guard check themselves through that same routine while another guard behind glass in a different room shouted, "You're good!  I watched, so I can verify."  They then entered a brief debate about how to set up the video visitation system because the guard out front had to be in 2 places at once.  The guard behind the glass conveyed that they should just set up the machine early so it would connect automatically when Clayton arrived on his end, noting, "so what if she gets a little extra time...”

Mrs. Allison hoped that the guard staff within the prison weren't as short staffed as they were out front, but felt thankful that they worked so hard to help the public access their loved ones despite the inherent challenges.  

Tip #1: Prison Toilets

Clayton's tip of the day was both amusing and a tad bit scary.

"If your prison toilet backs up," he began, "and the button you use to flush it stops working…? Immediately press the intercom and ask for a plunger!  Do not pass go!  Do not hesitate!"

Clayton reminded his wife that the toilet in the cell was just in the room with them, with no privacy barrier of any kind and no lid.  Having any kind of mess inside the toilet for any period of time would end up building up a smell that could take forever to rid the room, because the cell doors stay shut all day and night unless someone is actively moved to or from the room.  It is also critical to act quickly, because sometimes getting a response - even from the intercom - can take a significant period of time.  He noted that on an earlier occasion, he and Andy had waited more than an hour before someone suddenly spoke from the panel, causing both of them quite a fright.

After hitting the intercom and pleading for assistance, Clayton was surprised to hear the guard respond with an, "Oh, okay.  We’ll reset you.”

What?!” he thought to himself.  "They can reset my toilet?"

The guard then explained that if a certain volume of 'stuff'' gets flushed down the toilet, it is designed to trigger a ‘shut down’ and prevent more 'stuff' from being flushed.  Sure enough, the guards reset his toilet, and it magically began flushing again.

"People need to know this in advance!" he conveyed.  "Help may take time to arrive.  Don't wait and make it even more miserable!"

Tip #2: The Vanity Mirror

Clayton also relayed to his wife that he had an epiphany today about one of the items on the commissary list.  He had seen a small hand-held mirror when looking through the items, but ignored it at the time.  Now he wished he had not delayed in its purchase.

He explained that he had been shaving with every opportunity for a shower.  This was the only time a safety razor would be offered to you for use, and Clayton explained that it didn't work very well.  Even more frustrating, Clayton was not used to shaving without a mirror.  He explained that even though the walls of the shower were metal, they were painted white and non-reflective.  He was having immense trouble, and discovering patches on his face he had missed entirely after returning to his cell.

Then today he realized... that is what the mirror on the commissary list would be for!  Don't delay in purchasing one if you need to shave.

Tip #3: Prison Jobs Come With Risks

Clayton also mentioned that he learned something from an inmate in another cell earlier this morning.  The man was taking a shower and chatting with the inmate in the cell next to him.  Clayton explained that you could hear so clearly between cells in the block, and even between showers and cells, that it was nearly impossible not to overhear other inmates' conversations.  

The man in the shower was talking about something that he claimed happened to him due to his job in the prison.  The prison has many different types of jobs, and Clayton had seen at least one with the prisoners that would come in at night and clean the hallways.  This man had apparently landed a ‘coveted’ job at GCCC, working within a warehouse outside where they stock supplies.

An inmate was telling the man in the cell next to him that he had been charged with conspiracy to sell narcotics because of the job.  He had been the only one working when someone from outside tried a drug drop at the prison and it was discovered.  He was charged and convicted with extra time in prison due to the discovery. Clayton said the man was absolutely ranting about the incident.  While Clayton realized that the inmate truly could have been guilty, he also knew first hand just how little 'evidence' was really needed to convict someone of a circumstantial accusation.
Clayton explained that the job the man had at the prison was so highly coveted because it allowed the person to be outdoors.  Apparently, some jobs like this are highly valued, but also carry a dangerous risk because you can be found guilty by association if something happens while you are working. He also noted that you could be in danger of threats by other prisoners too.  While at MSPT Clayton had been threatened by a man who wanted Clayton to run drugs, and the man threatened violence against his family on the outside.  Thankfully, he wasn't confronted again because he was moved shortly after.  

“Consider the risk before you take a job,” Clayton warned, "the benefits may not outweigh what could happen to you."

Late Night Concert in Segregation

On a lighter note, Clayton explained to his wife that he had once again been kept up all night, but that it wasn't due to the typical yelling and screaming between inmates.  Instead, there had been a concert!

He wasn't sure what lead to the event, but theorized that it may have something to do with the arrival of coffee in commissary earlier in the week.  Apparently there is a man in segregation, who Clayton had not seen personally, who had an amazing voice.  Clayton said that he had a deep voice with a thick accent, and an amazing talent for singing.

The man sang numerous songs in other languages, many of which were reggae-sounding.  People began banging with cups and on cell walls to keep time as the man sang.  He couldn't understand the words to most of the songs, although many of the men obviously could.  However, he said the fan favorite was by far was an old Bob Marley song he recognized called Get Up Stand Up.    The lyrics say, "Stand up for your rights.  Get up.  Stand up."  Inmates began shouting, clapping and carrying on; cheering to the man to continue.  The man sang until 3 or 4 am.

"It was like an AM concert," Clayton said with a laugh.

Finally!  The Handbook!  

Clayton confirmed to his wife that he had been given the opportunity last night, as the staff had assured her he would have, to finally read the GCCC Segregation Handbook.   The handbook was brought to his cell by a guard and he was given 1 hour to read it.  Fortunately, Clayton is a speed-reader so he was able to read over the material around 3 times; but his wife realized that with her own reading disability she would probably not have gotten through it in that time.

Clayton said the information from the handbook had been extremely helpful.  He had learned about room inspections, hygiene requirements, mail, and more.  He had not realized before that if he had attempted to mail something to his family without the proper return address (which he had never even seen before) already on the envelope, it would have been returned to him.

"It was so helpful!" he said with thanks to her.

However, the visit also left Clayton with additional concerns.  He said the guard had communicated to him, yet again, that he needed to get his family to stop talking to the prison.  The guard expressed that they could, "Make things difficult for him."  He also told Clayton that it didn't matter what the handbook said (about prisoners all being given a copy as an introduction along with a bag of basic supplies).  It wasn't done.  He said that prisoners only wasted and destroyed them.  He said that "Only troublemakers ask for the handbook;" implying that it was only people who wanted to call guards out on violating the rules.   Mrs. Allison commented that it seemed a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy if they never gave the information out in the first place.

Clayton expressed that this series of comments from so many guards truly had him worried.  He was frightened of being cut off from his family, and had heard stories of this happening to other inmates for various reasons.  He didn't want his family to help him if it meant losing them.  Nothing is more important to Clay than his daily visit.

Clayton also asked his wife to relay some of the awkwardness of prison life to his friends and family when it came to communication.  Some of them hadn't realized that when he calls on the phone, he is still in his cell, calling on a phone through a hole in the door.  This means that he is still in the same room with his cell mate, who is likely to be able to hear every word of the conversation; much like sitting with someone in a small room of your own house while you're on the phone.  He encouraged them not to ask questions about what his cell mate was like, or express things to him that they hoped would not be overheard by others.

Also, Clayton wanted to pass along a similar reminder for individuals sending him mail.  He is overjoyed with every letter he gets, but wants to make sure people realize that all letters are read by the prison guard staff before being provided to him.  Make sure all mail adheres to prison mail policies to ensure that the mail actually gets to him, and don't write anything to him that was too private for a stranger to read.

Clayton's Day

Earlier in the day, Andy had managed to get a deck of cards passed to them through one of the guards from another inmate.  Clayton was beginning to teach Andy his favorite card game, rummy.  So far... Clayton was losing.

Andy had gotten mail from his family the night before.  They had set up a land-line phone for him to be able to call.  Andy had been very excited to get the phone, but was heartbroken when he discovered that the land-line was an Anchorage number, and prisoners are not allowed to dial long-distance phone numbers unless the person has already established a Securus account.  Even worse, Andy's letter contained distressing news about events happening to Andy's family which he was not able to discuss with them.

"God knows who Andy is," Clayton said, "So please pray for his family if you think of him."

Clayton said he and Andy discuss the bible with each other all of the time.  They will read passages on their own and then discuss points of the stories they were reading, and how they might apply to their current situation.  He encouraged his family to read 2 Corinthians 4:8-12.  Clayton also continues to be pleased with the Our Daily Bread devotional, which today was discussing the concept that everything has a time and a season.  He asked his family to find out if they could sign up for him to receive the new booklets regularly.  The booklets are set-up like quarterly calendars.

Clayton also realized as he was moved back and forth from his cell, that the news he had heard playing on earlier days was from a radio, not a television.  Apparently after 5 PM, the guards turn on a radio turned to local news and let it play for 1-2 hours.  This is one of the additional ways that inmates have access to the news.

Clayton also received 3 magazines with his mail today; 3 editions of Hunt Alaska, and 1 edition of Fish Alaska.  He was very excited to get to read them.  They appeared to be magazines that had been ordered for Clayton by friends while he was still in the general population at MSPT.  Along with his mail, he also received information from the prison on how to order books and magazines from segregation, and an approved list of book vendors.  Used books were not allowed for purchase.  The handbook has explained that only “pay-up front” orders were allowed, no 'trial subscriptions' or other arrangements are allowed which would be considered contracts.  The handbook also explained that he would only be allowed 5 magazines and 5 books in his possession at any given time.  

In wrapping up, Clayton informed his wife that he had received a cop-out response to the question about his book balance, along with a receipt for additional funds she had deposited the night before.  The response explained that the lack of balance in his account had been an error, and had been corrected.  He also reminded her that he had filed a property dispersal form (for his suit, shoes, etc.) which she should eventually be able to pick-up in person.  Otherwise, his cell was finally clean, he was as clean as he could manage, and he was happy.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2 - Challenges Continue

Monday, March 2

Today was a highly emotional day for Clayton's family as their lives continued to be forced into change around their new routines, and the challenges with his visitation continued to unfold.

Clayton's wife began her day with the difficult task of resigning from her job.  She had worked for her employer for more than 6 years, having started just months before Jocelynn's death.  Her employer had worked with her through the personal challenges around the false accusations and court hearings she had to endure, and supported her throughout the constantly evolving health challenges she faced as the stress worsened.

Clayton's wife suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type 3 - Hypermobility Type.  It is a genetic condition that causes severe pain, fatigue, joint hypermobility and dislocations, and a myriad of other trying symptoms.  While Clayton was still with her, he was able to help her with many of the mobility issues and daily challenges she faced.  After years of fighting, Clayton's wife finally decided that her health could not afford to be torn between fighting for her husband and the strength she needed to continue with her employment.

"I don't have enough strength to do both now that I'm on my own," she explained to Clayton during their daily visit, "You are more important.  I will find a way to get by."

The Battle for Visitation Continues

Before Clayton's wife had even left the city after clearing out her old office, she received a phone call from the facility.  She had sent an email the night before providing information they had requested in a prior meeting about Clayton's visitors, and explaining the new information they had been given.  The email outlined the family's concerns and asked for clarification on the proper way to proceed.

When Clayton's wife received the phone call, she was surprised to find that the staff from the facility were clearly very upset.  They stressed to her that the burden of the family contacting the facility on Clayton's behalf was too high.  She expressed her confusion, highlighting that to her knowledge: only 2 emails had been sent with information which had been specifically requested by staff, 2 calls had been place to security about phone difficulties which had also been advised, and there had been the initial meeting.

Clayton's wife tried to impress to the staff that there were literally more than 100 people with questions about: what was going on with her husband, how to send him mail, how to visit him, how to send him items, how to get money into his account, etc.

"I am the reason these people are not descending on your facility," she tried to explain, "I am asking them to go through me; to help you."

The staff then expressed that Clayton needed to "Take Responsibility," communicate on his own, and follow policies.  This only increased his wife's frustration.  She explained to the staff that Clayton couldn't know GCCC policies because he still had not received either the general Prisoner Handbook or the Segregation Handbook since his arrival.  These handbooks outline critical information for success in the facility without undue hardship.

"The only reason my husband understands how anything works," his wife explained, "is from A) inmates from Anchorage he is rooming with trying to explain their expectations, or B) from ME, during my visitation time after speaking with your staff and reading the handbook myself."

Clayton had already been punished once before by losing phone privileges for a day after failing a room inspection, even though he had never received instruction on what was expected for room inspections.  The staff assured Mrs. Allison that her husband would have an opportunity to read the handbook before the end of the day.  They also explained to her that someone would be working directly with Clayton to correct his visitation list, and process the 10 people he wished to have on there.

Money Challenges

In the middle of her conversation with the prison staff, one of Clayton's family members approached her with even more distressing news.  Clayton had managed to get a call out to another family member, and was distressed about the lack of money in his account.  Clayton had reportedly asked the staff for information on the balance of his account; which should have had $94 in it after being carried over from MSPT.  However, the staff reported to him that his account was, instead, empty.

Mrs. Allison decided to head straight to the facility from Anchorage - a 90-120 minute drive - to visit her husband and determine whether more money needed to be deposited.  After arriving, she discovered that the information Clay had been given, only hours before, had been incorrect.  The balance now showed the full amount that should have been there from the beginning.  During her visit, Clayton informed her that he had filled out a cop-out form right away to ask what was going on, and she assured him that despite what he had been told earlier there did appear to be funds in his account.

Clayton Describes His Day

Ultimately, Clayton was able to visit today with his wife and one additional family member who had been successfully processed to his list.

He explained that this morning he was pulled out of his cell unusually, handcuffed, and brought to speak with an officer. They spoke in an office for a while, while he was handcuffed to the chair.  The officer explained that K Mod is very full. Boats (temporary mattresses laid into the walkway) are being used in every cell. The list of people waiting to get into K Mod is extremely long, and individuals are evaluated based on background, need, personal history, etc. They also explained to Clayton that he is an ideal candidate for K Mod, but that they have many like that.

The officer emphasized to him that he needed to be patient, and not fill out too many cop-out forms requesting placement into K Mod.  Clayton was surprised because he hadn't filled out a cop-out for that purpose, but supposed that it must be something they tell all inmates in segregation.  They also explained that if he did get into K Mod, and then opted to leave or had to leave because of punitive measures, it would be much more difficult to get back in. Getting back in could take 6 to 8 months or more. She encouraged that if he had problems (with cell mates, etc.) after placement, to report it on the cell intercom right away.

During the visit the officer also had emphasized to Clayton that he needed to "reign in his family," and that their involvement would not speed the process along.  Clayton began to worry that his family would be penalized for trying to help him, and ask questions on his behalf.

Another officer had also come to Clayton that day to work with him on visitation, as the staff had assured his wife they would do.  They confirmed with him the 10 people he wished to have on his list, and they assured him that 9 of them had already been started for processing, but they still needed information on the 10th individual. Clayton was able to get that information during his call out to family, and report it through a cop-out form late in the day.

During that call he was also able to determine that his phone PIN number finally appeared to be able to call out to all his desired land-line numbers. He had also identified a phone problem he had not been aware of before. It appears that typing his PIN number (a 10-digit number) into the phone too slowly can make the phone respond that you are using an invalid PIN number. Also, typing in the person's phone numbers too slowly can result in a similar problem and a "restricted number" message. Clayton explained that part of the difficulty is due to the awkward way an inmate in segregation must dial the phone.  The phone is wheeled on a cart to their cell door, and they must reach awkwardly through the hole in the door to dial and then draw the receiver back to their ear through the hole to communicate.

CLAYTON'S TIP FOR THE DAY:  When calling out, have your phone PIN and phone numbers to try right in front of you, or the delay could cause you problems and burn up too much of your time.  An inmate only gets 30 minutes for calls, including dialing time.

Commissary Tips

Clayton was able to once again fill out his weekly commissary form last night.  His tip for others is to ask for the balance of your account on the intercom in advance. Because he did so today, he related verbally to the guard that the balance was in error, and also filed a cop-out form.  However, because he did not ask earlier, he is not sure if it will cause his commissary forms to be rejected.

He explained that the commissary has a $25 weekly limit for inmates, however, there is a second form with medical items (like Dove soap). The items requested from the medical list do not count towards the $25 limit, so it does allow for a little bit of leeway for needed items. Earplugs are also from the medical list.  A huge percentage of the list is food items, which Clayton didn't see much point in.  He said there were some medicinal teas on the list that he considered, but no way to make hot water.

Last night Clayton ordered: stamps, envelopes, a notebook, a legal pad, a photo album, dandruff shampoo, earplugs (shaped and round), lotion, Crest toothpaste, dental floss, and a new toothbrush.  A list of commissary items is listed at the end of this post to give everyone an idea of what items cost for the inmates.

Wrapping Up

Clayton tried to pay attention to the daily routine in a little more detail using the clock in the main area today.  Morning breakfast takes place around 5:40 AM every morning, and they come back to collect the trays at 6:00 AM. Then the staff turn the lights back down and don't turn them on again permanently until 7:00 AM. This gives inmates more time to sleep with the dimmed light.  At 7:00 AM the staff also offer, over the intercom, inmates the option for recreation and/or a shower.  Inmates may not be collected for a shower until around 8:00 AM, and shower quickly because you're taken back to your cell by 8:30 AM. Lunch takes place from noon to 12:15 PM. Inmates must eat fast, in only 15 minutes, because if you miss tray collection, your tray has to sit in your room until the next mealtime.  Dinner is around 5:00 PM, and lights generally go out for the night  around 11:00 PM.

Clayton also mentioned with excitement that he got an opportunity to clean his room today. It didn't seem to be a response to a cop-out, but was instead a response from asking guards direcly.  He was given a broom and dustpan to clean the floor, and rags with disinfectant on them.  He had described during prior visits with family, that his room tends to collect what he described as 'giant pink dust bunnies' very rapidly.  He was happy to be rid of them.

Clayton continues to learn Samoan words (like Jesus, God, and Rejoice) from Andy while he is singing worship songs.  Clayton is currently reading in Timothy, Psalms, and from Genesis to Matthew.  He was also excited about the Our Daily Bread devotional for the day, discussing taunts from the enemy.

He wrapped up his visit by informing his wife that he filled out a cop-out form for property disbursement today; authorizing her to pick up his suit and shoes from his property box so it did not become too full.  She promised to watch for the notification from the prison that it was available.

Commissary Examples

20 stamps, $9.80
100 standard envelopes (small), $2.20
notebook with 80 sheets, $2.25
legal pad (8.5 x 11), $1.75
photo album, $1.05 - not sure how many photos it holds
Crest toothpaste, $3.50
dental floss, $2.35
anti-shank toothbrush, $0.55
2-n-1 shampoo and conditioner, $4.10
comb, $1.10
soap case, $.75
deodorant, $3.05
address book (small), $.95
shower shoes (size 13), $8.20

dandruff shampoo, $2.10
earplugs shaped, $0.25
earplugs round, $0.25
Lubriderm lotion, $4.40
100 cotton swabs, $1.30
chap stick, $1.95

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1 - First Birthday By Video

Sunday, March 1

When Clayton's family visited him today, one of the members who came to the visit was celebrating a birthday.  The family had a small party together earlier in the day, and then a couple of them had packed up to visit Clayton at the facility for his own well wishes.  Once again, the visit would have to be shared by video - the only form of visitation allowed for inmates in the administrative segregation unit for protective custody.

When the family arrived, Clayton informed them that their visit had ended up right in the middle of dinner, so the guards had brought his dinner in with him.  They could see his tray sitting behind him on the desk; bright orange plastic, divided into sections, and around 2 inches tall.  He held up his meal so they could see it through the screen.  It was some kind of meat and potatoes, served with: bread, salad, and a cookie.  He was given a sad-looking broken yellow spork as his only utensil.


Commissary was delivered for the unit today.  Clayton didn't have anything delivered to himself, and learned that there would be a 2 week delay between a commissary order and its arrival at the facility; so it would be quite a while before he received the soap he longed for from his initial order.  Also, the new form for this week had surprisingly already come by; much earlier in the day than last time.  He explained that you had to fill it out and turn it back in quickly.

Clayton ordered stamps, envelopes and paper this week, but the delay means that it would be two weeks from today before he finally received supplies to send return letters to family.  Clayton described the commissary arrival like Christmas morning with a bunch of excited children.  'Fishing' between inmates in various cells had become crazy, and Clayton had actually constructed a little barricade to prevent fishing lines from getting too far into the room.

While it was not part of commissary, Clayton noted that some of the inmates several cells over from him are receiving newspapers and magazines regularly.  Clayton discussed with his family the types of magazines he would be interested in receiving.  Unfortunately, if Clayton was in a general population mod in the facility, family and friends would be able to order books and magazines for him.  However, being in protective custody - in any of the segregation areas - made this impossible for his family now.

Clayton could only obtain these items by ordering them himself, and he had to provide all of the ordering information on his own.  He would have to provide the completed order form, required internal forms authorizing payment from his account, the envelope with appropriate postage attached, and have adequate funds in his account for the full purchase before the item would be ordered.  Therefore, Clayton's family discussed with him which magazines and other options to track down order forms for; and his family planned to mail them to him.

Wrapping up the Day

Clayton informed his family before ending their visit that he had received a response to a cop-out form he had submitted earlier in the week.  On a prior day, he had been visited by a guard and informed that the men who had threatened to knife him when he first arrived at the facility would soon be moved into the same segregation area he was in.  The guard left, and Clayton had been concerned about whether any of these men could end up stuck in a cell with him.

Inmates who were taken into protective custody or sent into segregation for punishment were taken to the same area in the facility, and this had panicked Clayton.  However, the response to the cop-out form clarified things.  It explained that the facility would not pick-and-choose cell mates in segregation, but they put like with like; PC with PC, and punitive with punitive.  This confirmed for Clayton another thing which he had already begun to suspect.  Andy was in segregation for PC, just like Clayton was.

After updates, Clayton spent the majority of his visit catching up with family who had not had the opportunity to visit with him at GCCC before, and chatting with the birthday person.  He had tried to call the house the birthday party was being hosted at earlier in the day, but hadn't gotten the chance to get access to the phone before family arrived for his visit.  He promised to try again after his visit was over, and did manage to get a call out to his family that night and connect with other family members who were not able to attend the visit to see him.